Don’t Forget to Tip!

It’s incredibly easy to go over budget with weddings if you are not aware of all the items you need to account for. There are many little things that will pop up over the course of planning so it’s important to have a buffer just in case. I’ve learned to always err on the high side when establishing a budget. After planning and building out our own budget, Brandon and I quickly realized we were missing one important line…tips! We were so focused on all the big vendor contracts that it completely slipped our minds. Thankfully since we postponed, we started to save every month and put away cash. Not really knowing how much, we assumed it would need to be quite a bit if we were going to tip most of our vendors. 

Most vendor bills are due within the last two weeks leading up to your wedding so it’s important to have your tips pre-assembled in envelopes and ready to go. Brandon and I were not sure what the suggested tipping guidelines even were until we did a quick google search. There’s a ton of information out there, but we compared three articles by The Knot, Brides, and WeddingWire taking the average answer into account. Here’s what we came up with for our own tipping list: 

Officiant: Civil officiant – $50-$100, Religious Officiant- $100-$300 donation to their institution. We lucked out here because we are having my brother officiate our wedding. 

Hair and Makeup: Also, another place we were able to save money because one of my bridesmaid/best friends is doing my hair. Like any other time, you would get your hair done, it’s suggested to tip hair and makeup pros 15%-25% of the total fee. 

Transportation: 15%-20% is recommended. Be sure to check your quote as gratuity may already be included like mine was. You are always welcome to tip more if you feel the service went above and beyond expectations. 

Photographer and Videographer: We will probably end up tipping our photographer since we’ve been really pleased with the service thus far and we know they will be having an assistant the day of. Otherwise, the articles said a tip is recommended if the pro works for a larger company and the suggested amount was $100-$200. 

Delivery and Set Up Staff: Tips are expected at $5-$20 per person.

Musicians or DJ: Tips are required. Musicians – $25-$50 per player, DJ – 10%-15% of the total bill or $50-$100. 

Caterer and Waitstaff: Check to make sure a service fee isn’t already included in your bill because ours was at 20%. If not, tip 15%-20% of the food bill. 

Bartenders: Our bartenders were also included as waitstaff in our food/alcohol bill so also double check. Each bartender should receive 10%-%15 of the total bar tab.

Parking Attendants: After estimating how many cars will be coming, each attendant should receive $1-$2 per vehicle. 

Wedding Planner/Coordinator: A tip is not expected, but if you feel they went above and beyond, gratuity of 10%-20%, or up to $500, is greatly appreciated. If your planner has assistants, it’s recommended $50-$100 each. 

Florist and Cake Baker: Tips are not expected or required, but if there is delivery or set up needed it is recommended to tip the staff. 

xoxo, 

Mikell

A Day of DIY

Now that we are less than 7 weeks out, it seems wedding is on the mind 24/7. This past weekend my cousin and best friend came over to tackle several items on the to-do list. DIY decorations was top on that list. Besides saving money, one of my biggest priorities was to not have a ton of decor leftover that I needed to sell. To accomplish these two things, Brandon and I did a combination of borrowing signs from friends, renting locally, looking for bigger expensive items on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and buying smaller items at hobby lobby. 

A few months back I was looking for French doors, which I hoped to repurpose into a seating chart. As I searched on Craigslist and Google, I noticed that all the doors for sale were either too expensive at several hundred dollars (some even in the thousands) or were missing windowpanes. My best friend put word out on social media of what we were looking for and later that day someone sent us a link to a person in a nearby town giving away two doors. We quickly messaged the person and told them we would come right away. To our surprise the doors were in great shape and had all windows intact. The best part was, they were free! 

Since my cousin so graciously volunteered (or maybe it was more voluntold) to do all the sign writing, she came over to help plan out the layout for the doors and start fixing some of the signs I had borrowed from a friend. We started off by bringing the doors out to the lawn, we removed all the hardware, and then scrubbed and hosed down both sides leaving them in the sun to dry. We then went to Michaels to purchase white, gold, and green paint pens and chose oil based for both the glass and chalkboards to keep the words from getting smudged or nicked in transportation. In a couple weeks, when all the RSVPs are received, my cousin will come back to write out the seating chart and finish the signs she couldn’t get to this wekeend. 

Teamwork seriously makes the dream work. I don’t know what I would do without these people being so willing to help. My key takeaways from this DIY experience are 1. Social media is your friend! You never know what you’ll be able to find for a good price or even free. 2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 3. DIY is a great way to save money and add personal touches to your wedding day. 

Xoxo, 

Mikell 

T-Minus Two Months, Let’s Go!!

Remember back to those blocks and my Sunday tradition? If not, go back and read my first blog post here. I talked about how the blocks were double sided and on one side it counts down the weeks until the wedding date and if you flipped it to the other side, it starts counting down days. Well, this Sunday I finally got to switch to the days side! We’re two months out and there’s still so much to do. 

For the past three weeks wedding planning has taken a backseat to all the other things going on in my life. In thirty days, my month of coordinator will be taking over all vendor communication so that leaves me with a month to complete all the tasks I’ve been putting off. In using the Etsy detailed wedding checklist that I previously talked about a few weeks back, I’m going discuss all the items I need to complete in the next month and use this post to hold myself accountable. 

2 Months to Go Checklist (plus tasks rolling over from month 3):

  • Take dance lessons – to save money we will be checking out YouTube options 
  • Start writing vows…
  • Ask someone to help with returning wedding furniture + decor rentals while away…
  • Ask someone to help with returning or arranging dry cleaning for wedding outfits 
  • Decide if we’ll be giving thank-you gifts to our I Do Crew + involved family, eg both parents. Set time aside to make or buy these – we have gifts purchased for the groomsmen and Brandon’s dad, but still need to get gifts for the bridesmaids, flower girls, my dad, and both our moms. 
  • Confirm that I Do Crew’s outfits are sorted …
  • Update wedding website with additional FAQ’s provided by venue 
  • Continue updating guest RSVPs
  • …Keep budget spreadsheet up to date with latest payments made + next payments due
  • Complete wedding music workbook + send to DJ
  • Meet with photographer to discuss specific shots, locations + event timings – our meeting with the coordinator and photographer is next Tuesday! 
  • Give sign off on decor
  • Think about ceremony seating
  • Prebook personal grooming / beauty treatments for wedding week
  • Start working on any DIY projects

This weekend I am having another wedding planning session with my cousin and best friend. I’ve found what works best for me is having a strong support system, delegating tasks to not get overwhelmed, and setting aside time to get things done. Next week I’ll fill you all in on my progress. Time to get to work! 

Xoxo,

Mikell

First Dress Fitting

My first dress fitting was this past week and all I have to say is that I was feeling a lot of emotions. Overwhelmed, excited, nervous and to sum it all up…eeek! That counts as an emotion, right? It’s all starting to come together and finally feel real. Last year I went for my first dress fitting with my mom and two bridesmaids. Then that same week I had to pick up my dress due to postponing the wedding, so it never went through any alterations. This time I went by myself and had a few additional changes in mind. 

The alterations boutique I chose to go to was about a 45-minute drive from home, but from my research they caught my attention with 5 stars on Yelp! and Google, making them the #1 alterations boutique in the Bay Area. I love reading reviews, therefore, I was sold. From what I remembered, last year they mentioned I should come in no later than 8 weeks prior to the wedding, but since I wasn’t sure how busy they would be I called 4 months in advance to ensure I’d be able to secure an appointment.  Thankfully I was able to get in. The appointment went really well and now I must wait 5 long weeks before getting to see the progress on my dress. 

Here are some of my tips for a successful first fitting:

  1. Do your research and make an appointment early.
  2. Have an outline of what you want to alter, add, and change. Pictures are always a great visual to show exactly what you are asking for. 
  3. Bring the shoes you’ll be wearing or at least shoes that are the same heel height if you don’t have them ordered yet. 
  4. Bring any undergarments you plan to wear on your wedding day. 
  5. Bring your veil if you will be wearing one. Not a must for the first fitting, but definitely bring it to the second as most boutiques will steam it for you. 
  6. If doing a bustle, have your friends join you so they can be shown how to button or assemble the train. This also may only be needed in the second fitting, but it’s nice to have support there. 
  7. Lastly, alterations can be expensive. Make sure to have part of your budget set aside for this. 

Xoxo,

Mikell

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

This wedding tradition is linked to a rhyme that originated in England during the Victorian Era. The original rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe” symbolized luck for the new bride. Each part of the “something” was given to the bride before her wedding day in hopes of a successful wedding. Not all brides take part in the tradition today, but for those who still do it is common to see a modern twist on the items. 

Something Old

“Something old” represented a tie to the past, usually between the bride and her family.

Modern twist: An old locket or piece of jewelry wrapped around a bouquet.

Something New 

“Something new” stood for optimism in the new chapter of the bride’s life and the future with her spouse. It represents hope that the happy couple will have a long future together. 

Modern twist: Anything that the bride is wearing that was purchased as new can count! Wedding dress, veil, shoes, and jewelry.

Something Borrowed 

“Something borrowed” was typically given from a happily married friend or relative. The thought was that the happiness would transfer over to the bride and stay with the new couple for years to come. It was also believed to bring good luck for marriage and even fertility. 

Modern twist: Your parents cake knife, a family member’s jewelry, or borrow either your parents or your fiance’s parents wedding song!

Something Blue 

“Something blue” was an item that actually was in the color blue and it was meant to ward off evil. The color itself also stood for love, purity, and faithfulness, and modesty. 

Modern twist: Blue heels, a small message in blue on the bottom of the bride’s shoes, or a blue embroidered note in the dress. 

xoxo,

Mikell

Securing the Groomsmen Attire

Last year Brandon and I went to Men’s Warehouse and designed him a custom-made suit for the wedding. We both really liked the blue suits compared to navy and since we figured he could get a lot of future use out of the suit we decided to go that route rather than a tux. He gravitated towards the idea of having a three-piece suit, probably because we were watching a lot of Peaky Blinders at the time. Deciding on his outfit was a piece of cake. We never made it far enough in the wedding planning process, however, to pick out the groomsmen attire. A combination of busy schedules and honestly being burnt out from the planning process, we had yet to make any selections until today. 

We arrived at our local Men’s Ware with no appointment. Oops, rookie move! They were kind enough to assist us, but it is recommended to make one so that you can ensure there will be someone to assist. We could definitely see that there were a lot of upcoming weddings, because at least 6 guys stopped in to either pick up a suit or to get measured while we were there. 

Wanting to stick with the same color for the groomsmen, but not too matching with Brandon’s suit, we decided to only go with pieces of the Calvin Klein Blue Suit, pants, white shirt, a matching blue vest, and a solid blue tie. The entire process was very easy and straightforward. We filled out paperwork to provide information on the groomsmen and when the wedding was taking place. The woman assisting us then created a group ID, uploading each groomsmen’s name and the exact pieces they needed to rent. I am glad we didn’t wait any longer than we did to select the outfits because the groomsmen now have a month to go get measured.

Besides having to have all measurements done 30 days in advance of the wedding date, the groomsmen only need to worry about picking up their outfits anytime starting 3 days before the wedding and then making sure everything is returned the day after. To make the return process even easier, it was suggested to have one person designated to return all outfits. The best part is that there are over 1,400 locations in the U.S. which is great because we have groomsmen in multiple states. If you’re in need of an uncomplicated way to pick out suits for your wedding, I highly recommend checking out Men’s Warehouse.

xoxo,

Mikell

To Throw Away or to Repurpose

Bridal bouquets can range anywhere from $60-$1,000 depending on the area they are purchased, the number of flowers used, as well as the types of florals. According to brides.com, the average bridal bouquet is $250 which can be quite a hefty price to pay for something you may carry around for an hour. Covid has also impacted most businesses resulting in floral vendors raising prices by roughly 10%.

After the wedding, some brides prefer to stick the flowers in a vase with water until they are ready to toss while others become attached to their bouquet and want to explore ways to preserve them. If you fall into the latter category like me, you’re in luck! With the help of my cousin, I have found the following ideas to repurpose a bridal bouquet. 

  1. Custom Tray 

Esty has so many custom tray options depending on the style you are looking for. They offer multiple shapes (circle, rectangle, etc.), handle colors, and more. The ones by ResinGardener caught my eye first in my search. A pretty simple process, all you need to do is ship your bouquet and Courtney handles the rest. The tray could be used for drinks on your bar cart, hold a candle and coasters on your coffee table, or even be used as a space to display perfumes and lotions in a bathroom. 

  1. Ring Holder 

These ring holders will not only serve as a memory of your special day but will also be something you get a lot of future use out of. These are great to have on a nightstand to remember to take off your rings before bed or by the sink for convenient placing while washing dishes. Ring holders don’t take up a lot of room, always serve a purpose, and will never go out of style.

VIVIANxCO 

ResinGardener 

  1. Framed Pressed Flowers

Custom framed pressed flowers are a wonderful option for bouquet preservation. Hang in a bedroom or office and you can get a daily reminder of all the happy memories from your wedding day! Pressing and framing flowers allows you to keep the style of the bouquet alive while also functioning as a beautiful piece of art.

HerbaristaShop 

GiftswithloveArt 

xoxo,

Mikell

Gift Guilt

Let’s talk about the continuous pressure to spend money on the bridal party. Starting with Instagram and Facebook, I’d always see postings of these lavish gift baskets brides would give to their potential bridal party asking them if they would be a part of their big day. So of course, when it was my turn to ask my chosen ladies, I wanted to go all out. I searched on Pinterest and googled the best items to put together. I wanted it all to be special and unique, so I went to Hobby Lobby and got each bridesmaid-to-be a basket and filled it with a personalized glass mug, monogrammed leather travel bag tag, candy, fancy soaps, and a mini alcohol bottle. After that was all said and done, it was well over $100 per girl! I look back and cringe a little about how obsessed I got over something so meaningless. 

It is now over a year and a half later and I am going through the same thought process, but this time it’s for gifts I want to give each girl at the rehearsal dinner. It’s time for an intervention though. I’ve been stressing for weeks trying to figure out what I was going to get them. I wanted the gifts to be meaningful and something they would use in the future. I began my research and once again found myself building out these bags of gifts. But why? Do they really need more bags they will probably never use with candles, glassware, jewelry, etc.? Why is there so much pressure and guilt to keep spending money? 

Here I am having to give myself a reality check that I don’t need to go over the top with paying friends and family in multiple gifts to be in my wedding party. Instead of buying “things,” I’ve been brainstorming on ways I can show my appreciation without breaking the bank. I thought one way I could do this is through a personal handwritten note or card. Speaking for myself, I’ve always held onto memories associated with receiving something sentimental. Other ideas I thought of include a spa day the week of the event where we could all get pampered in preparation for the wedding day or a fun girl’s night in, a nice frame and photo of the two of us, and a robe and slippers to wear while getting ready the day of. If you’ve been a part of a wedding party before, did you expect to receive gifts? What were some of the gifts, if any, that you truly appreciated? 

Xoxo, 

Mikell

White Dresses Galore

One of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout this entire wedding process is finding a white outfit. This search is actually not even for my wedding dress. That process was fairly simple. The white outfit I am in need of is for my rehearsal dinner and I have been on the hunt for months. I’m not even joking when I say I have looked at hundreds of dresses and jumpsuits and spent hours doing so. Just check my iPhone’s screen time and you’ll find that the daily average is quite concerning. 

The dilemma I am facing is not that there is a lack of dresses out there to choose from, there’s just a specific look I am going for which limits my options. Pair this with having to find a dress that isn’t too long or too big for my petite frame and the options dwindle down even more. I have purchased several dresses in the past few weeks and only found one option I have held onto. The two biggest lessons I have learned throughout this entire process are to make sure you start your outfit shopping early and to ensure the shop you are buying from has a good return policy. I definitely got burned by that last one recently and it cost me $30 to ship a $100 dress back to Australia only to get a store credit. 

Now that I have enough research hours under my belt to deem myself a master wedding rehearsal outfit shopper, I’d like to share my top online stores and some of the recent options I found. If anyone has any other suggestions, I am all ears! Where’s your favorite place to shop for a special occasion outfit?

Revolve

Revolve is great because they have a ton of designers. Their prices do tend to be on the higher end, but you may find something within your budget or choose to splurge a bit. 

Cooper Midi Dress

Elora Dress

ASOS

ASOS is one of my favorites for everyday clothes because they have the option to specifically filter for petites. 

Ever New Petite lace hi-low maxi dress with bow back in white

TFNC Petite bridesmaid satin halterneck top maxi dress in light blush

Nightcap 

Nightcap clothing has an entire section dedicated to the bride to be. If you like lace and more of a boho vibe, look no further! 

Wisteria Lace Jumpsuit

Lulus

Tons of options and very affordable! 

Classic Glam White Off-the-Shoulder Bodycon Dress

Drinks On Me White Sleeveless Pleated Bodycon Dress

Making Magic White Fringe Lace-Up Mini Dress

Hello Molly 

Similar to Lulus, Hello Molly offers more affordable white dresses and they also have an easy drop down to select the color you’re looking for. 

Time Well Spent Midi Dress White

I Heard a Rumour Dress White

xoxo

Mikell

The Wedding Day Timeline

Last week we chatted about getting organized in planning for the big day. Honestly it was perfect timing as this week Brandon, and I had our detailed timeline meeting with our coordinator! We chose a month of coordinator which means 30 days prior to the wedding date they will take over all vendor communication. However, prior to that they will help with any suggestions needed and give access to their online planning software, which we also reviewed last week. As we are approaching two months out, it was time to have that hour and a half long conversation about how Brandon and I wanted the entire day to flow. 

Wedding day timelines take a lot of work! I had no idea there were so many intricate details that needed to be discussed. I always thought we would just follow a generic timeline: ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and send off. There’s so much more that goes on and I was most surprised at how many ways there are to make your timeline unique to YOU. Here is a generic wedding day timeline and notes of my suggestions for making it special and one to remember. 

9:00 a.m. Hair & Make-Up begins

Once you have a headcount of how many people will be needing hair and makeup, you’ll want to ask how much time the artists need. It is also helpful to communicate what time you need to be ready to leave by so that they can adjust the start time accordingly. 

12:30 p.m. Photographer coverage begins

The photographer’s arrival time depends on how many hours they are contracted. Most packages include 8 hours.   

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Bridal parties depart for venue 

This time obviously depends on if the bride and bridal party are already onsite or not. 

2:15 p.m. Wedding party gets dressed 

2:40 p.m. Couple first look and photos

Another option that could be considered is doing a first look with the father of the bride. We decided not to do a first look, so we were able to shift our time to arrive at the venue later. 

3:30 p.m. Officiant Arrives 

4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Ceremony 

This time is completely dependent on what kind of ceremony you want to have. Religious ceremonies may require more time. 

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Cocktail hour 

5:30 – 5:45 pm Call to Reception / guests seated

5:45 p.m. Introductions and first dance

6:00 p.m. Dinner service commences

6:15 – 6:50 pm Sunset Portraits

Sunset portraits were a priority for Brandon and I so we have requested that our caterers pre-plate our food so we can quickly eat. The one thing I did not want to happen is our guests waiting around and there be any awkward time with us being away which is why we chose to do portraits during dinner. 

7:15 p.m. Toasts begin 

7:30 p.m. Specialty dances

This usually is when the father & daughter and mother & son take place, but you could get creative and do something fun and unique. 

7:40 p.m. Cake cutting 

7:45 p.m. Garter toss, bouquet toss, or a substitute 

We decided to omit the garter and bouquet toss and instead we will be doing an anniversary dance. The couple together the longest will be the last on the dance floor and they will then offer their advice to the newlyweds! 

7:45 p.m. Open dancing! 

9:00 p.m. Late night snack

This is completely optional, but we figured our guests might be hungry after burning all those calories dancing. I had always envisioned serving my favorite, Taco Bell, as a late-night snack and we are making it happen! 

9:55 p.m. Last dance and send off 

10:00 p.m. End of evening or continue the celebrations with an afterparty! 

It’s helpful to come into the timeline meeting with an understanding of your photographer’s timeline as this could impact the structure for the day and some slots may need to be moved around. At the end of the day, prioritize the things that matter to you and your significant other. There were so many wedding activities that I thought we had to do because I had seen them at so many weddings (i.e., bouquet/garter toss), but it’s completely up to you on what goes!

xoxo,

Mikell